Bowie V. Ibarra
In the course of two weeks, the UFC and the mixed martial arts world lost two of the greatest fighters to ever walk into the pit of combat to the sport they love. George St. Pierre walked away and took a hiatus due to alleged nagging vision, sleep, memory, and anxiety problem. Those symptoms are in line with concussions. Considering the hours St. Pierre has spent in the ring and training in combat sports, what he claims could be true, and early symptoms of long term problems.
St. Pierre was fortunate, however, being able to, literally, walk away for a while as the lastest MMA disaster followed only a week later.
Anderson Silva, another one of the most dominant MMA fighters in the world, was seeking redemption at the end of 2013. Silva was looking to reclaim not only the belt he held for over 6 years, but to reclaim his dignity after being knocked out clean and cold by while goofing off during a fight with the newly-anointed champ, Chris Weidman. In spite of its decisive outcome, pundits would call it a fluke on Weidman's part.
Again, folks, the champ acting like a jackass and getting knocked out clean for it is not a fluke. It's a victory. A total victory.
So Silva walks into the fight much more serious than before and is holding his own in the first round, despite losing the round. The second round begins. A Silva kick is checked, and he falls to the mat writhing in pain, having broken his leg on Weidman's leg. Weidman retains via TKO.
And again, sorry folks, but that's a decisive win as well. The point of the sport is to incapacitate your opponent via KO, submission, or injury. Anderson's leg break was not a fluke, but the result of a trained defense to the move.
Fights have ended early on cuts. David 'The Crow' Louisau was infamous for using his elbows to open cuts to end fights. Tim Sylvia got his arm broken with an offensive grappling technique. That's the rules.
Believe me, I wanted to see Anderson redeem himself. He got what he deserved in the last fight, so I wanted to see his return to glory. But it was not to be.
In what I saw as the most ironic twist of fate, imagine what would have happened if Silva didn't play around in their first fight. He might have beat Weidman and this rematch would have never happened. Destiny proved that Silva's poor choices in the first match brought this moment to all of us. And, almost poetically, Silva has moved from noble champion to foolish clown to sad cripple, never to step into the cage again to taste the glory he once held fast in his very hands. The same hands he watched that glory fall through his fingers like sand.
And though its been reported that Anderson wants to train when the time is right, it would be a foolish decision. Returning from an injury like that would be stupid. But who am I to judge the heart of a warrior like Anderson. I just don't want to see his leg snap again. Its even been reported that his son hopes his father gets well and retires.
He needs to take some time and let it go. We're already having a hard time remembering how great he was, even though he eclipsed his previous stupidity with this tragic outcome.
Fate is cruel.
AND NOW, SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT
There's never going to be anything that truly takes away from the brutality of combat sports. But like 12 oz. boxing gloves protect the hands of boxers but doesn't take anything away from the damage they can do, perhaps its time for the Powers-That-Be in MMA to consider shin guards. They are not uncommon in combat sports. In fact, in organizations like Pancrase, they're required. Like boxing gloves protect the knuckles of fighters (and, in turn, their livelihoods in the sport), lets bring in kneepads.
This is not some kind of freak accident, either. This happens a lot in kickboxing. It happened before in UFC's The Ultimate Fighter with Corey Hill.
Do these folks bounce back? Sure. But why return when the same danger awaits?
With that said, it might also be time to reconsider shoes as well. From what I understand, there was some suggestion that shoes can be used to some advantage. But they can also prevent broken toes as what occurred with another UFC Champ Jon 'Bones' Jones.
Now what happens to fighters brains is out of everyone's control. Brain damage from concussions, from mild to severe, is a fact of combat sports now and forever. Nothing short of stopping fighting will ever stop that. But protecting the limbs and appendages of the fighters can and should happen.
Let's consider this: Three of the biggest champs in the UFC sustained severe injuries. Two of those injuries could have been prevented. 'Bones' big toe break could have been prevented with shoes. Anderson's could have been prevented with shin guards to absorb the impact. That's three of the sports biggest cash cows out due to injury.
That's money out of Dana's pocket. That's fans cheated out of great fights in the future.
UFC, Unified Rules makers, anyone responsible for protecting fighters, lets get on this today, okay?
Photo ripped-off from MMAJunkie.com
UFC WOMEN'S CHAMPIONSHIP
'ROWDY' RONDA ROUSEY (C)
MIESHA 'CUPCAKE' TATE
These bitter rivals threw down in yet another outstanding matchup. Tate's plan was to drag champ Rousey into the later rounds, suspecting that since the champ had never made it to the late rounds, that she might not have enough gas in the tank for the challenge.
Well, she was wrong, and lost again to an armlock.
Let's face it, the only woman who is going to test Rousey will be Cyborg. But you know UFC is not going to sign her anytime soon.
JOSH BARNETT vs. TRAVIS BROWNE
Jeez, Travis Browne is no joke, rocking Barnett early before taking him out with a series of elbows to the side of the former UFC champ's head.
Let's make that Cain Velasquez/Travis Browne matchup now, Dana.
LOSER LEAVES TOWN MATCH
CHRIS LEBEN vs. URIAH HALL
It was Brawling vs. Science in the veritable 'Lose Leaves Town' match between Leben and Hall. Their contracts were up and the winner had a chance to stay in the UFC while the loser loses their UFC contract.
With so much on the line, the two fighters took their time in the first round. But that played more into Hall's methodical approach. Perhaps if Leben had used more of his brawling tactics that had made a name for himself in the years before, he might have had an edge. But Hall messed him up with a flurry of punches and kicks that made Leben cash out between rounds.
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BOWIE V. IBARRA is the author of the 'Down the Road' zombie horror series from Permuted Press and Simon and Schuster. His latest story, 'Tejano Star and the Vengeance of Chaplain Skull' is a Tex-Mexploitation superhero story in the tradition of 'Machete' and 'Black Dynamite'. Get it in paperback or Kindle today.